Seven immigrant families from Georgia freed from detention after raids

Seven Georgia families who were arrested last month in a nationwide immigration crackdown have been released from detention centers based on appeals, though they still face deportation, their attorneys announced Tuesday.

All Central Americans, they live in Atlanta, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Norcross and Stone Mountain. And they are among 12 families — 33 mothers and children — who won “temporary stays of removal” from the Board of Immigration Appeals with the help of the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project.

The project is a coalition of several groups that assist immigrants, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association, or AILA. The families were being held in detention centers in south Texas and Leesport, Penn.

“The statistics are extraordinarily clear that the two most important factors in being successful in an asylum case are having a lawyer and whether or not you are detained,” said Laura Lichter, former president and now general counsel for AILA.

Last month, federal immigration authorities arrested 121 adults and children during raids in Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. Of that number, 77 have been deported, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced last week that the crackdown will continue, despite objections from federal lawmakers and advocates.

ICE confirmed Tuesday eight families who had been arrested during the raids in January had been released from detention. The eighth family lives in Houston, according to AILA.

“As aliens subject to a final order of removal, these individuals were released on orders of supervision,” ICE said in a prepared statement. “The terms of their supervision require electronic monitoring devices, and they will be required to check-in with ICE regularly as part of ICE’s Alternatives to Detention Program until resolution of their challenges by the Board of Immigration Appeals.”